A good deal of the world’s music and literature is about home towns. Cities and their vibes have been squeezed for inspiration with good results for both the ARTS and artists’ pockets.
I haven’t spent enough time in Kitgum Matidi to write anything sincere and/or impressive about my home town, and I identify more with Kampala by virtue of having lived all of my years in the place.
Before I was allowed to leave home on my own, I thought the stories in Saturday Vision’s Krazy krazy Kampala were made up. I just couldn’t reconcile the city I experienced as so normal and boring with the people that this column reported committing all sorts of silly acts, fornicating to death and all those dogs going on such undoggy adventures! All of it seemed like lies; until I started to use public transport.
First up were the idlers. Probably a quarter of Kampala’s population is made of people who wake up in the morning to stand on street corners either doing nothing or hissing and fondling passersby.Nobody is safe from their wet attentions; wet because gosh, have you seen the amount of spit they spray when they’re really into the hissing? If you stopped them waggling their tongues long enough to offer them 2bob to wash your car, they’d likely launch into a tale detailing the deaths of their parents and then ask you for money. Never mind your car.
The taxi stage next to my workplace recently acquired an interesting one. In the normal fashion, he pollutes my days with random eyebrow waggling, but when I get closer to him, he says, in a comically rising voice,“Mpulira njagala kusitula!”If the mpulira is do on the solfa scale, the situla is a so. I translate his words as I really feel like lifting you up! which sounds like something a person would say to a nursery school kid, so I always smile.
The people in this city are easy to please. One morning at around 7.30 am, an empty bus swung into the Ntinda stage. People rushed into it, some even abandoning their seats in nearby matatus. The bus didn’t fill up, so it idled for a while. A tutorial started to play on the little screen upfront, informing us of rules and regulations and when it ended, there was a smattering of applause. It played a second time and the clapping was even louder.
Two chatty girls got on and because there was only one seat left, they opted to stand, clutching at the dangling handholds for support. When the bus started to move, local music videos begin to play at a crazily loud volume. In the stead of coffee, Co Co finger, Twonjex and Bebe Cool jolted life into our still sleepy forms. The girls began immediately to dance. The mzungu one was very entertaining. First she bobbed her head and her knees in perfect rhythm then her neck jerked and swiveled first to one side then to the other. Her waist began to move in that way that was so popular in my senior two, bongo flavor belly dancing.
The overall effect was awkward and adorable, and made me realize just how boring I’m becoming. In her place, I wouldn’t have danced so freely. People started cheering them on and a couple left their seats to join them on the dance floor. The smart girls quickly occupied their vacated seats. Drat. My space is done. This will probably be continued.